This week, Merlin chills out with Stephen King’s Dark Tower novels for the entire length of the episode, whilst Arthur comically blunders about the place, wondering where his servant has gone. Hijinks ensue. Neither Morgana nor Mordred appear.
Obviously, that (mostly) isn’t true. But what does happen? Is it… heartbreaking? Well, watch the episode on iPlayer first, there will be spoilers.
If A Knight Falls This Badly, Does Anyone Care?
The bulk of The Dark Tower sees Gwen kidnapped by Morgana, after the Knights of the Round Table did a particularly crappy bodyguarding job. So off they plod to rescue her. Meanwhile, Gwen herself is undergoing the kind of psychological torture that certainly had me begging for it to stop.
The Knights are brave, Merlin is helpful, at one point a wood sprite tells him someone will die, and you know it must be Elyan, simply because he had one emotional scene earlier. Weirdly, even though it’s his final week, Elyan doesn’t get a final moment or heroic sacrifice. Gaius tries to tell us the enchanted sword would’ve got Arthur if Elyan hadn’t fought it, but I’m sure Merlin would’ve saved him.
This is one of those moments where a long-running but ultimately blank character dies and you struggle to care. At this point, even Leon and Percival had more exposure this series than Elyan, even though he had a much bigger introduction. Mordred… is off doing his hair somewhere?
Gwen Is The Weakest Link?
And then we get to the ending, where Gwen is revealed to be a traitor, her will apparently broken by the Tesco Value Mental Torture earlier. If they later announce Morgana is using mind control, or has replaced her with a Fake Gwen, this will retrospectively seem better.
Right now, though, we are being encouraged to think Gwen has genuinely “turned”, and after all the years building her up as good, strong and clever, it seems odd that she’d fold after a couple of days locked in a room with guffawing illusions. Not to mention: another smirking traitor in Camelot? Do they have no other ideas? And how much does Merlin want to be Homeland at the moment?
Regardless of the cause, there is fun potential in Evil Gwen for future weeks. But this particular episode didn’t really work for me at all, I’m afraid. Hollow death scene, nonsensical twist at the end, not even many fun character moments along the way to distract me. We’ll try again next week.